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Saturday Scrimmage Notes

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Goooood morning, Horns fans. Some of you may have been up bright and early like I was this morning, and if you got yourself together in time, made it to DKR for the a.m. scrimmage. As promised, notes from this morning's action.

Colt McCoy is your starter. Absolutely no doubt about it. McCoy started with the first team offense, moved the ball well, looked very, very comfortable and poised with his reads, and delivered the ball exactly where he should have. Just judging from his presence, decision-making, and performance, you'd not guess he's a freshman.

What was absolutely clear from today was that McCoy has built a rapport with the first team and feels, looks, and acts like the job is his. A lot can happen between now and game day, so caveat emptor... but if I were a betting man, and I am, I'm betting the house on McCoy.

That brings us to Jevan, who I was eager to see today. Let's just say that he's most assuredly had better days. He was picked off once, should have been picked off another time, and, most importantly, is taking too long to decide what to do with the ball.

Fans who watched the Titans' preseason opener saw Vince Young play reasonably well, but it was clear he was thinking a lot out there. That's a characteristic you see in someone that's still learning how to make his reads and digesting the offense.

Same with Snead. As receivers made their breaks, and the ball should have been released from his hand, he was still looking around, deciding where to go. On the three throws where he made a decision on time and threw the ball in, he looked good. He threaded the needle on one very nice throw to his left, and it's clear he has some real talent. But based on what I saw today, he's not ready, and isn't going to be our starter.

What was -really- interesting is that...

...Sherrod Harris outplayed Snead by a lot today. So much so that I asked myself if Snead, and not Harris, should be the one redshirting.

Then, of course, I reminded myself that this is one practice, and I can't draw any conclusions off of one practice. Still, Horns fans shouldn't write off Harris. He looked very comfortable in the zone read, made a gorgeous throw on a deep ball that was dropped (exactly like VY's throw in the Titans' opener), and looked comfortable out there. He was picking on third team defenders mostly, but he's sort of the forgotten man among Longhorn fans. I won't forget him after today. He has real talent.

Most interesting thing I saw today: the number of plays run out of the two tight-end set. There were a lot of them. There are some distinct pros to such a set for this particular team:

  1. It puts both Jermichael Finley and Neale Tweedie on the field at the same time. This has numerous advantages, most notably that we can disguise whether we intend to use Finley as our receiver, or Tweedie as our man to run behind.
  2. It's a fine set up for a team that's lacking in a great fullback but wants to run the football a healthy number of times.
The first team defense was impenetrable. The second team offense, faced with the task of trying to move on this unit, could not. They could not run. They could not throw. Snead was ineffective against this unit (as well as the second team unit, which he saw action against later). As expected, the unit looks big, fast, and tough. Sounds simple, and it is. The first team defense is disgusting.

Staying with the defense: Frank Okam is an absolute monster. He's going to require two blockers on every play he's in, and if teams try to use one man against him, he'll disrupt the play in the backfield, as he did on one occasion this morning. Offensive coaches better gameplan for Okam; those that don't will be in big, big trouble.

Marcus Griffin got the start at safety alongside brother and returning starter Michael Griffin. He's more than adequate, but I was particularly impressed with Erick Jackson today, and won't be surprised if he winds up our starter at safety. Both will play; both looked good.

Jamaal Charles was unbelievable today, as one might expect, but so was Selvin. Young looked quick, strong, and made several impressive runs, including one he made a perfect cut inside on for a touchdown.

For his part, Charles looked every bit the best tailback in the country, as I think he might be. High praise for a true sophomore, but if he stays healthy, look out. He's so incredibly balanced, he maintains a perfect body position in traffic, bounces off would-be tacklers while always keeping his legs moving, and of course has that unreal speed. He'll share duties with Selvin, which is fine by me, but if he were the sole featured tailback, I've no doubt he'd run for 2,000 yards and wind up in New York as a Heisman finalist.

Henry Melton got significant action today, and didn't look much better than last year. He looked a little more spry, but he's still running too upright, and he runs into the pile too frequently. It was just one scrimmage, but the improvement I've been hearing about wasn't evident today.

Limas Sweed is ready. For one thing, he's grown into his frame, filled out, looks right, looks comfortable, runs good routes, isn't afraid to use his body... just nothing bad to say about Limas at this point. He looked like a leader out there, and like a man who knows he can succeed. That's a lot of development from his freshman year, when he was timid and unsure of himself, and his sophomore year, when he was still growing into his role as a go-to receiver.

McCoy hit Sweed twice, once on a perfect out (Sweed made a great catch, and bounced off a would-be tackler), and once on a deep ball to the outside (perfect throw, great route by Sweed). McCoy to Sweed looked like a great combo today.

Greg Davis haters prepare your eyes for some rolling - the bubble screen is back. I'm just sayin'...

Deon Beasley was fielding punts before the scrimmage, but only saw action at cornerback in the live ball. He didn't -quite- look ready to me. He's a terrific athlete, though, and will be an asset by mid-season. Chykie Brown saw some solid minutes with the second and third units as well. Both will play this season.

Greg Johnson did a great job as our kickoff man, punter, and place kicker. Hunter Lawrence shared the duties, but didn't perform nearly as well. His kickoffs were decent, but no match for Johnson's arching, hanging deep balls, and Lawrence had a field goal blocked on a ball that never got up. Hunter made his final attempt and looked much better. I'd hate to see Johnson have to do it all, but right now, he's the best man for the job. We'll see. This remains an area of concern.

Overall, I was eager to see these guys live, and I came away feeling good. The starters (I'm counting McCoy in here) looked great, and there are lots of guys already there, or well on there way, to provide excellent depth. The secondary is going to be deep, with plenty of rotation. The starting linebackers were excellent; the guys behind them looked solid, and will keep getting better. The defensive line was the best I've seen at Texas, as expected. On offense, the receivers are ready, the tailbacks are terrific, and the offensive line did a solid job. For those wondering, Blalock spent a lot of time at tackle today, with Dockery playing solidly at guard.

Oh, one more thing: at this time two weeks from now, Texas will be kicking off their season opener against North Texas. You ready?

Update [2006-8-19 11:28:56 by HornsFan]: Can't believe I forgot to mention this: the scoreboard is freaking ENORMOUS!! You have to see it to appreciate just how gigantic it is. Ohmygod.

--PB--